|Technical notes: Special Considerations for Programming in Unstable Situations (UNICEF, 2000, 490 p.)|
|Chapter 4: Children Separated from Families|
Coordination and communication between all organizations and authorities concerned with and working on behalf of unaccompanied children is essential. Mechanisms for discussion, information sharing and coordination must be established from the earliest possible moment, normally under the auspices of the government body/department responsible for child welfare. Coordination may be facilitated by a declaration of intent or memorandum of understanding at the start of an emergency.
Primary responsibility for the coordination of programmes at central and local levels lies with the government.
Operational functions should be delegated to specific agencies working under the overall authority and supervision of the national child welfare authorities, with one agency (usually ICRC) designated as the focal point/coordinator for tracing information.
National child welfare services or other relevant local authorities should normally provide an overall framework for coordination of action on behalf of unaccompanied children. A special unit may be needed within the national child welfare service to oversee any large-scale programme. Technical assistance and material support should be provided to that unit, if needed.
In order to preserve his or her own identity and culture, inter-country adoption should be considered only if:
the child cannot be placed in a foster or adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the childs country of origin [CRC, Article 21.b].
The process must conform to the provisions of General Assembly Resolution A/RES/41/85, Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, and the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Inter-country Adoption
UNICEF and UNHCR (in case of refugees) have a fundamental responsibility to assist governments to fulfill their responsibilities, including ensuring coordination. In circumstances where there is no authority in control, a competent organization should assume this role.
NGOs (including the national Red Cross/Crescent society) should be carefully selected and are often best suited to work at the community level, organizing care, tracing children locally and reuniting families.
· Any organization from outside the community must have demonstrated professional competence in child care and the management of the particular services needed.
· Any organization involved in arranging care for unaccompanied children must be in agreement and act in accordance with the established policies and principles. It should not have any conflicting objectives, such as international adoption, resettlement or religious conversion.
· Any community-based organization, especially womens groups, should take maximum responsibility for the programme (and eventually assume full responsibility). Youth should be mobilized to help. NGOs from outside the community should support the community groups concerned and, at the same time, maintain close and continuous links with the local government administration, and health, education and other social services and programmes in the locality.